Harry Crow

What will happen when a goblin-raised Harry arrives at Hogwarts. A Harry who has received training, already knows the prophecy and has no scar. With the backing of the goblin nation and Hogwarts herself. Complete.

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/8186071/1/Harry-Crow

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5. Snapeless Potions

Cleaning his knife and sword again wasn't strictly necessary, but the repetitive and familiar actions required for this task offered Harry some comfort. At this moment in time, that was as good a reason as any for Harry to be sitting doing nothing but that. After his shower, he didn't really feel like facing anyone else at the moment. He was currently holed up in his room but was surprised when his self-enforced solitude was broken by the Ravenclaw house ghost.

The Grey Lady passed through his closed door to speak with the young Ravenclaw. "The Quirrell problem has been dealt with by the senior staff..."

"Yeah? Just a pity they weren't in time to deal with the troll problem in the infirmary."

"You did very well today young champion, your father will be proud of you."

This was scant comfort to the hurting young lad. "He might be the only one, the headmaster certainly wasn't too happy with me."

"You should come down to dinner, see your friends..."

Harry gave that idea a resounding no. "I think I'll just stay in my room. My father is coming to Hogwarts tomorrow, I can't wait to see him."

Seeing the boy was struggling with the consequences of his actions today, his house ghost made a suggestion. "Hogwarts can ensure you're not disturbed, if you wish?"

He had a faint smile on his face at that suggestion. "Yes, I would like that."

As the ghost left, a tray of food appeared on the bed beside him. Hogwarts would look after her champion.

-oOoOo-

The senior staff were all in Dumbledore's office, there was a half-empty bottle of firewhisky on the headmaster's desk. The bottle would take even more of a hammering before their meeting was finished.

Minerva repeated the question that had three heads of house hitting the fiery liquid. "How can Voldemort not be dead? Even the death of poor Quirinus didn't finish him off, we all saw that spirit escape."

Pomona though was looking at the incident from an entirely different angle. "I find it very hard to believe that Albus just happened to mention he was going to be removing the item from the third floor this weekend, and we were all fighting a possessed professor the very next day. Was that why the stone was brought here in the first place, as a trap for the dark lord?"

Filius didn't like the further implications behind Pomona's conjecture. "I have trouble believing it could be mere coincidence that this all happened the year Mr Crow came to Hogwarts?" You could practically see the wheels turning inside the little professor's head as he replayed the other disturbing information that had recently been revealed. The conclusions he was coming to were scaring the Head of Ravenclaw, he rounded on Dumbledore. "You knew Voldemort wasn't gone and decided not to tell anyone, didn't you? I'm willing to bet the goblins discovered this, and that's why you were barred from Gringotts."

These assumptions also led Pomona to draw her own terrible conclusions. "Child of Prophecy, Hogwarts Champion and now slayer of trolls. I'm also willing to bet the prophecy concerns that child and Voldemort, and Albus Dumbledore knows all about it!"

Minerva had no problem following her two friends' train of thought. She also didn't like where that train was heading, nor was the Head of Gryffindor shy about taking her complaints to the conductor. "If I discover you were in any way responsible for that troll incident today, I will take my findings straight to the board of governors. Children's lives were put at severe risk with that creature loose in the castle!"

Filius had more to say. "In light of our suspicions, I demand to be at that meeting with Barchoke tomorrow. I am Mr Crow's head of house and intend to see his best interests protected while Harry's at Hogwarts."

This was one bandwagon Minerva definitely wanted to join. "I demand to be there too. If Voldemort returns and young Harry is involved, it will undoubtedly affect the entire school. You have lost the trust of your heads of house, we no longer believe that you can be relied upon to fulfill your obligations as a headmaster should."

Pomona was in wholehearted agreement with those sentiments. "This doesn't just affect a specific house, those pupils in the infirmary could have been from any of the four. Poppy is a renowned healer but would be the first to admit she was out of her depth today. Young Mr Crow literally saved their lives, and all you could do was attempt to reprimand the lad."

The head of Hufflepuff's disgust at Dumbledore was there for all to hear, her inbred sense of loyalty well and truly offended. "I saw Hogwarts respond instantly to his call for assistance, I feel she will also take action against any attempts made to circumvent her champion. I can't help but think Harry being there today, clearly possessing the appropriate training and tools, has further endeared Hogwarts to her chosen champion. You could find yourself out a job headmaster." She gave this a few seconds to sink in before making her own demands. "I also intend to be at this meeting, I want to hear what the lad's father has to say about this."

Minerva remembered what had taken place during her lesson earlier. "There may be more of us looking for a job than you think Pomona. Mr Crow claimed that transfiguration was the easiest form of magic to master - requiring only one spell - and then proceeded to prove it. He turned a book into a chicken with no recognised wand movement or spell incantation."

Snape had been quiet the entire meeting but couldn't hold back at this, his reply was dripping with contempt. "You've obviously been pranked, no first year could do that. The book would have been pre-spelled to transfigure on command."

The Hogwarts Deputy was in no mood to mollycoddle anyone's feelings and ripped right into the potions professor. "I am well aware of how that prank works Severus, which is why I gave him a book that belonged to me and determined the item I wanted the lad to transfigure it into. He also further transfigured the chicken into a woven basket and finally a kitten, all by the same method."

Albus seized at this opportunity to turn the subject away from his relentless verbal castigation. "And just how did Mr Crow accomplish this feat? Surely not by wandless magic?"

"He used his knife..." Minerva had to hold her hand up to prevent the interruptions that she could see coming from Albus and Severus. "The lad knew the ministry interpretation of what constituted a wand verbatim. Is there anyone here who doesn't believe Mr Crow's knife will not break any of the ministry's guidelines of just what they define a wand as? When you take into account that his knife was a personal gift from Ragnok, then you can guarantee it will fall outside ministerial law."

Snape couldn't stand the son of his former schooldays enemy receiving praise. "If he's so bloody good at magic, why did he have to kill a troll with a sword? I would have expected him to tie it up in pink ribbons and bows, just waiting on us coming to collect it."

"And just how many eleven year olds do you know who could take down a fully grown mountain troll?" Filius wasn't for letting Snape or Dumbledore off with anything. "Can I assume from your attitude that you don't want to be part of this meeting tomorrow?"

"The brat has made it perfectly clear that he wants nothing to do with me, well the feeling is mutual. No, I will not be at that meeting. Excuse me, but the thought of listening to more talk about that boy is making me quite nauseous. I shall retire for the night."

As Snape was leaving, Filius had a parting comment for the potions professor. "I think the problem is young Harry made it PUBLICLY clear he wanted nothing to do with you, just remember that Severus. Harry has already proven my earlier statement correct, never mess with a goblin."

As Snape left, Minerva once more turned the argument back to Dumbledore. "So headmaster, are you going to tell us this prophecy - or are we going to have to ask a goblin about it tomorrow?"

Albus could only stall his senior staff, and hope the goblin would tell them nothing tomorrow. He was beginning to regret arranging that meeting, the timing of it just couldn't be worse.

-oOoOo-

Harry came down the stairs with the intention of carrying out his normal morning exercise routine, he found an unexpected sight waiting on him.

Hermione had fallen asleep on a chair turned to face his staircase, obviously intent on not letting him get past her. It should also have been obvious from her attire what the young witch's intentions were but Harry had never seen clothing like this. The shorts came down to just above her knees and clung to Hermione like a blue and pink second skin. The short sleeved top was of the same colourful design and material, clinging to her every curve while exposing part of her midriff. Chunky footwear completed the ensemble, all made of something called Nike, and she had even attempted to tie her hair back into a ponytail.

Hermione's mane could never be tamed by a mere hair-tie and was already escaping to cover her face. Harry gently moved the escaped locks away from her eyes, only for those expressive hazel orbs to shoot open.

Harry would later swear he didn't see Hermione move but she must have, how else could she now be standing and wrapped all around him.

"Oh Harry, you've no idea how happy I am to see you're alright. You walked out the infirmary covered in blood and I was sure some of it must be yours. Madam Pomfrey had to practically force-feed me a calming draft to stop me chasing after you, she said we were all suffering from shock and kept us in her apartment while the infirmary was being repaired and fumigated. She let us out at dinner time and then I couldn't find you anywhere, no one could. Where were you?"

Harry had thought he had lost his friends but, if the way Hermione was clinging to him was any indication, that was clearly not the case. "I was in my room, I thought you wouldn't want to be my friend after what I did yesterday."

Hermione took his face in her hands, ensuring he could look into her eyes as she answered that question. "What you did yesterday was the bravest thing I've ever seen. We were all terrified yet you took command of the situation. I saw and heard you try to get the troll away from us, it didn't leave you any other option."

"You looked as if you would never want to see me again, as if I frightened you."

"You scared the bloody life out of me! I thought that troll was sure to kill you. The smell in the infirmary was atrocious, there was blood splattered everywhere and Padma was actually shooting slugs from her mouth as she screamed - not one of life's better experiences!"

A shiver ran down Hermione just thinking about it. Harry must have felt it because he held her tighter, giving the young witch the courage to say the next bit "I actually couldn't believe we all survived and just stood there in shock, it wasn't until Madam Pomfrey began to treat us I realised you had left. I'm sorry if you thought that Harry, I can assure you nothing could be further from the truth."

"So Padma and her sister don't hate me?"

This had Hermione blushing and really piqued Harry's curiosity. He held the silence until she eventually answered his question. "The twins seemed to think they now owe you a life debt - Parvati saw both of them marrying you as the perfect way to repay this debt."

Harry struggled to hold his laughter as he pushed for more. "I saved you as well, what does Hermione Granger think of this idea?"

"Oh, Parvati had thought of that as well. I was to marry you too - and become part of your harem..."

Harry couldn't hold his laughter any longer, much to the consternation of Miss Granger. "I hardly see how that is funny Harry..."

"Oh you would, if you knew more about goblins." Harry regained control of his laughter before giving Hermione the information she was missing. "Goblins have one mate - and that mate is for life. No goblin would ever take part in a multiple relationship like she's suggesting. I would really appreciate it if my best friend made sure certain others got to hear about that fact."

For some reason this put a wide smile on Hermione's face, Harry reckoned that now would be a good time to ask what was on his mind. "Hermione, what are you wearing?"

The pink tinge had once more returned to her features. "Oh this is my mother's idea of exercise clothes. I had hoped for jogging bottoms and a hoodie, a track suit even. Mother has to go and buy spandex, so it was this or robes. Shall I go and change?"

"No, those are great. They won't restrict your movement in the slightest." What Harry didn't say was holding her dressed like that felt really different - but in a good way.

This gave Hermione the opening she was looking for. "Okay, so we know I'm wearing spandex but I've never seen anything like you've got on. What is it?"

"You never want to see this either. My tunic is made from the hide of a Hebridean Black, one of the few species of dragon native to Britain."

Hermione was running her hands over his chest without realising quite what she was doing. "This is dragon skin? It feels soft yet tough at the same time."

"Yes...well...it provides protection... against spells or blades." Harry was almost stuttering before pulling himself together. "Do you want to do some training? I think we should just start with a light run this morning?"

This was quickly agreed upon and they left the common room, Hermione once more on Harry's arm.

-oOoOo-

Padma 'found' Hermione sitting on the stairs and had to help the clearly exhausted witch reach her room. "What happened to you?"

"Oh I went training with Harry. His idea of a light workout was a three mile run, my legs gave out halfway up the stairs. I really need to shower and get ready but I don't think I can."

Padma had an idea how to get her friend moving. "That's too bad, Parvati will have the story of what happened yesterday all over the castle by now. My sister is quite taken with your best friend, she'll probably be sitting on Harry's lap before breakfast is over."

The exhausted witch suddenly found reserves she didn't know she possessed. Hermione didn't see Padma's smile as she hurried past her smirking friend for a quick shower.

-oOoOo-

Hermione entered the great hall on Harry's arm as usual, but that was where 'usual' ended. Padma hadn't been joking about her twin sister. Harry's exploits from yesterday were now known by everyone, which probably explained why everyone was now staring at them.

Harry had just sat down between Hermione and Padma when they were approached by the other Patil sister.

"Mr Crow, I would like to formally acknowledge that I owe you a life debt."

The rest of the great hall didn't even bother pretending that they weren't listening to every word, they easily heard Harry's reply. "I'm sorry Miss Patil, but I can't accept that."

Parvati was rocked on her heels at Harry's answer, it was certainly not what she expected. "Why not? There's no question that you saved my life."

"Actually, I rushed to the infirmary to make sure my friends were okay, you just happened to be there too. Goblins always look out for their friends and family, there can be no debts between Hermione, Padma or I for doing so."

It was a downtrodden Parvati that headed back to the Gryffindor table, fighting to hold back the tears. Harry wasn't exactly sure what he'd done and asked Padma if she could explain it to him.

"You basically told Parvati that if we weren't in the infirmary, you wouldn't have come racing to the rescue."

Harry nodded at that. "If you and Hermione had been in the hall yesterday, I wouldn't have gone anywhere. I didn't go looking for the troll, I went looking for the both of you. The troll just happened to find us, and Parvati just happened to be there too. I can't accept a life debt for that. I certainly didn't mean to offend your sister though, and I'm still not sure how I did."

Hermione attempted to help him understand. "Harry, you have no idea just what a heroic figure you appeared yesterday. You were decisive, calm and the way you protected us was terrifying to watch. That troll was enormous yet you felled it like a tree the instant it got too close. Parvati is just upset that you didn't perform your heroics to rescue her."

"I think I see. Padma, please tell your sister that I may have raced there to ensure you and Hermione were safe but I would have protected anyone from that troll. Well, perhaps I would have let it beat up Malfoy or Weasley for a while before I stopped it."

Padma knew it was more a case of her sister had never had to play second fiddle to her before. Hearing that Harry had raced to the infirmary to see that she was safe, after publicly clobbering the Weasley boy for hitting her with a spell in the first place, would be a shock to Parvati's system. When she put it all together like that, it was a shock to Padma's too.

Seeing that the morning entertainment appeared to be over, Roger asked Harry a question that everyone wanted to know the answer to. "Harry, why did you use Gryffindor's sword on that troll?"

"Oh, my knife wasn't quite big enough to bring it down - pass those sausages over please Hermione?"

That ended all questions on the subject, no Ravenclaw could fault logic like that. As the noise level in the hall returned to what passed for normal at mealtimes, Harry had a question to ask both his friends.

"My father is coming to Hogwarts today, would you like to meet him?"

Hermione and Padma both said yes at once, putting a wide smile on Harry's face. That smile just got wider as Professor Flitwick entered the great hall, accompanied by a goblin Harry clearly knew.

No one in the hall was quite sure what to make of the boy-who-lived getting to his feet before respectfully bowing to a goblin. "Well met Master Pitslay, it really is a pleasure to see you again. I had no idea who my father had arranged to tutor potions and am delighted you have made the journey here."

"Well met Harry Crow - yes your father asked me to use that name while you are inside Hogwarts. I was hardly likely to let some wizard ruin all the hard work I had expended on your potions tuition. Master Flitwick has kindly arranged a classroom that should meet our needs, though I understand we have a few more students wishing to learn potions properly?"

"Yes Master Pitslay, three of my friends. Will that be acceptable?"

"That will be fine. If they prove adequate, we might add a few more as the weeks progress."

This proved too much for Snape who stormed out the great hall. Hogwarts students being taught potions by a goblin! He would have to take some action about that. Minerva McGonagall felt she needed to take some action too. She approached the group and Filius introduced her.

After the pleasantries, Minerva got right down to business. A trait that would endear her to anyone of goblin decent. "Master Pitslay, as Deputy Headmistress, I would like to observe you teaching our students this morning. Please understand, I mean no slight on your capabilities. Certain others might cast aspersions on you teaching at Hogwarts, I will be able to deal with them in my official capacity if I have witnessed your lesson first hand."

The goblin bowed slightly to McGonagall. "I look forward to your company professor, and thank you for your honesty and forethought."

Neither Hermione, Padma or Neville had a problem cutting their breakfast short so Professor Flitwick could lead them all to the classroom set aside for their potions lessons. After watching the way Snape had stormed out of the hall, missing lunch and dinner too would have been a small price to pay. If the longing looks they received from three quarters of the other first years were any indication, they clearly thought so too.

-oOoOo-

Minerva sat at the back of the class, not sure what to expect. If Harry's transfiguration tuition was any indicator, then she needed to be ready for anything. What she didn't expect was the children being told to put their books away before being handed a different one from their new professor. Pitslay was kind enough to hand her a copy too.

"Now I feel we must lay a few ground rules down here before we start, give you some idea of what to expect from me as your teacher. First of all, I intend to be finished the first year course before your next holiday." Pitslay let that statement sink in before continuing. "I intend to achieve this by not wasting both our times continually brewing different potions just so you learn one specific procedure or technique. When I teach you something, I expect you to remember it first time."

Harry had heard all of this before but enjoyed watching his friends nod in agreement with that last statement.

"Secondly, I won't be issuing what would properly be called homework. I don't care if you can write me a three foot essay on how you would brew something, I would much rather we spent our time ensuring you can actually brew that specific potion. That, boys and girls, is what I class as homework. Each week I will tell you the potion that you are going to be brewing the next time you see me. Your task then is to research all the steps, procedures and ingredients to the stage where you can brew it perfectly. The books I've just given you should be extremely helpful with each task."

Minerva thought the goblin teacher's expectations were too high, until she opened the book Pitslay had given her. That the potion formula and brewing procedure were clearly laid out was to be expected. What she'd never seen before was the wealth of additional information provided in a reference section that was easily two thirds of the entire book.

Pitslay took them through just what he expected, clearly showing each student how to glean the information on every ingredient and why they must follow the steps exactly. The goblin demonstrated each step of the procedure, actually brewing the potion himself. He encouraged them to ask questions but, instead of answering them, preferred to lead them whenever possible through the book so they could discover the correct answer for themselves.

Hermione though had a question that required a direct answer. "Sir, why is Harry's book so much thicker than ours?"

"Mr Crow already has a few years of my tuition under his belt, hence will be working on a different potion next week. Pages are added to your books as your skills increase. If things progress as I hope, your books should all be updated before December ends. There is a high probability that our numbers will increase. At that time, you three will be working on whatever potion I have assigned you, while Harry works on another. Any newcomers will of course start at the beginning, it is perfectly normal in a goblin classroom to have students working at different levels. Once you have brewed a few potions, I shall see where we go from there."

The lunch bell surprised everyone, including Minerva. She hadn't intended to spend the entire lesson here, only enough time to ensure the students were being taught to the same standard as the rest of their yearmates. She found the handout to be one of the best educational textbooks she'd ever seen and the teaching method fascinating. Minerva could see the positive implications of this, Severus was always complaining about expensive ingredients being reduced to sludge or cauldrons melted by dunderheaded students. It would be very interesting to compare the two methods. She really only had one question.

"Master Pitslay, what do you do when a student arrives at class clearly not having carried out the preparation work you set them?"

The little goblin seemed affronted at that question. "No student of mine would ever dare!"

Harry quickly covered for McGonagall's unintentional gaff. "Master Pitslay is the foremost potion brewer in goblin society. It is such an honour to be tutored by him that his statement is of course correct. There is no way a student of his would arrive for class unprepared. Their tutoring would come to a swift end, and the disgrace of that would follow them for the rest of their lives."

Hermione, Padma and Neville certainly had no intention of ever arriving unprepared. Not only would that mean letting Harry down, their only other alternative was Snape. They may not have done any brewing here today but all now felt confident they could make the required potion next week. For Neville, that was really saying something.

-oOoOo-

As they walked back to the great hall, McGonagall spotted another goblin standing there waiting with Filius. The Deputy Headmistress also spotted something that warmed her heart. Just for a few seconds, Harry had let his mask slip and Minerva was delighted at what she saw displayed there. Here was a young boy, away from home for the first time in his life, laying eyes on a loved parent. Having observed the Dursleys all those years ago, she really couldn't imagine Harry ever having the same kind of reaction to seeing his aunt and uncle. This was her first indication that Harry growing up with the goblins was a good solution to that young orphan's problem.

Hermione was on Harry's arm and could literally feel the excitement course through him as he spotted the goblin who must be his father. She was practically dragged in that direction.

"Well met father, how are you today?"

"All the better for seeing you, my son." Barchoke was smiling inside at the young girl on his son's arm, though of course none of it showed on his face. "Will you introduce me to your friends?"

"This is Hermione Granger, Padma Patil and Neville Longbottom. This is my father, Senior Accounts Manager, Barchoke."

Hermione paid no notice Barchoke's classic pinstriped suit, that he was slightly shorter than his son or had pointy ears. Harry called him father and that was more than good enough for her. The young Ravenclaw immediately offered her hand in greeting, saying "pleased to meet you sir"

Padma and Neville took their lead from Hermione and offered the same greeting. Barchoke couldn't remember the last time he'd shaken a witch or wizard's hand, his son had chosen his friends well. "Master Flitwick has arranged for us to lunch together before our meeting with the headmaster, the meeting will now be joined by some of the senior staff too."

Harry was well aware it wasn't considered polite to switch to the goblin language in the company of those who didn't understand it, he was also aware certain situations called for it. He considered this one of those situations. ""Father, can my friends join us for lunch? I feel they really need to know important information about me.""

This caught Barchoke on the hop, his son hadn't been gone a week yet wanted to tell these friends his secret? He was delighted his son had a best friend, that she was muggle born was in many ways a bonus. That was a side of the world that he was ill equipped to teach his son anything about, but this was moving way too fast. ""Are you sure about this Harry? Once told, you can't take it back?""

Harry nodded determinedly, ""The girls were almost killed yesterday, I was forced to slay a troll that was trying to bludgeon them to death.""

Barchoke's mask slipped at that, he practically growled at Harry's head of house. ""You shall be explaining that to me later - and why I was not contacted immediately!""

Hermione had been surprised when Harry started speaking what she could only guess was the goblin language, that was nothing though to watching his father's public face slip for a second. She remembered Harry telling her his father had fought two duels to the death to protect him, she now had no problem believing that. Public face back fully in place, he then switched effortlessly to English.

"Harry has asked that his friends join us for lunch, I would be delighted with that. I certainly want to know more about his friends, and especially what happened yesterday." The goblin's last phrase was said in a harder tone, and specifically aimed at McGonagall.

Minerva quickly responded. "Sir, I'll be more than happy to answer any and all questions you may have at the meeting. I'm hoping you may answer some of mine?"

The concerned father gave a slight nod at that. "I hope we can cooperate but please be assured, the safety of my son will always be paramount in any discussions we have. I was not aware that fighting trolls was actually part of the Hogwarts curriculum? If this is the best your school has to offer, it will be a short meeting and my son will be returning home with me."

Harry felt Hermione's fingers dig into his arm at that, he placed his hand over hers to offer some reassurance. He was pretty sure his father was bluffing, he was also pretty sure he was the only one there who thought so. Harry was certain his father's words would get back to the headmaster before the meeting, which was his father's entire reason for speaking them here.

They were led into a room set up for lunch and Harry invited Master Flitwick to join them, alerting his father that their head of house should be considered an ally in what was to come. Barchoke responded in kind by offering some comfort to the young girl who was clearly building herself up into a state of distress.

"Please don't trouble yourself Miss Granger. Should Harry leave Hogwarts, arrangement would be made to ensure he stayed in contact with his best friend."

"Oh thank you sir, but Harry already knows my feelings..."

"Hermione, before you say anymore, there is something I need to tell you. I need to tell all of you." Harry had just sat at the table with Hermione and Padma either side of him, his father now sat opposite and nodded his acceptance of the situation. "What I'm about to say may make a difference to where we go from here. You all heard the sorting hat call me prophesied one, well the prophecy in question concerns me and Voldemort. He's not dead, and will be coming after me."

It was Flitwick who broke the silence that followed Harry's revelation. Having just had the worst fears of the senior staff confirmed, it was time to declare whose side he was on. "This is not for repeating outside this room, Voldemort was in the castle yesterday. He possessed Professor Quirrell and let the troll into the castle."

Harry shared a glance with his father before continuing. "We didn't think he would be able to stage a return for a few years yet, this is why I just had to tell you. Being around me could be dangerous..."

Harry found himself confronted by a witch determined to get her point across. Hermione was so determined, she was sitting on his lap with her face mere inches from his. "You listen to me Crow, it's taken me nearly twelve years to find a best friend. If you think for one second that I'm going to give that up then the hat was wrong to put you in Ravenclaw!"

Barchoke now thought his son had made the right decision as he watched Harry's arms snake around the young witch. It was heartwarming to watch as these two drew comfort from each other while the rest of his friends quickly supported him.

Padma was in Ravenclaw for all the right reasons, and used that claw reasoning to convey to Harry she wasn't going anywhere. "You say I may be in danger if I stay your friend, I say I would be dead if I wasn't. You said it yourself Harry, you only raced to the infirmary because your friends were there. We all know the professors would have gotten to the infirmary too late to do anything but clean up the mess. I'll take the danger because I think I'm far safer, and certainly happier as your friend."

Neville was blushing but determined to prove the same hat had put him in Gryffindor for a reason. "My reason is more like Hermione's, though without the hugs. It's taken me a long time to make any friends, and that's a lot to give up. Besides, you told me we're practically family. I wouldn't be much of a family if I ran away now."

Hermione had such a tight hold of Harry she could feel the tension leave his body as they all declared they were going nowhere. She sat back, still on his knee, to ask the next question. "Okay, that explains all the training and tutors. Now, have you anything else to let slip or can we eat our lunch? I never knew running in the morning could give you such an appetite and we cut breakfast short."

As Miss Granger slipped into her own seat and began eating her lunch, Barchoke lost it. Both Harry's letters home had been full of this young witch, and he had a good idea of just how apprehensive his son was about telling her the prophecy. Seeing her reaction to the news caused Barchoke to burst out laughing. "Son, I heartily approve of your friends. Miss Granger, no matter what happens here today, you can rest assure you will be in Harry's life as long as you both want that to be so."

The relief amongst the young people was palpable, now all Barchoke needed was the meeting with the headmaster to go as well. First though, he wanted to hear how his son had taken out a troll.

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